Police investigation into crash that killed woman on Pufferbelly Trail continues

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FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – Police are continuing to investigate Thursday’s fatal crash, where Lesia Patrick, 63, was struck by a vehicle while crossing Carroll Road on Pufferbelly Trail.

“In the end of the day, a tragic event happened,” said Troy Hershberger, the Allen County Chief Deputy. “It just goes to say that you always need to be, if you’re the pedestrian or bicyclist, to be aware of the surroundings and drivers need to be aware of their surroundings.”

According to a police report WANE 15 obtained Tuesday, the driver who struck Patrick said the sun created a “severe glare that made it difficult to see.” The driver said he saw a car stopped in front of him and believed that the car was broken down. That is why he said he crossed the double yellow line to pass it.

The report said as the driver was passing, he saw Patrick as she collided with the hood of his car. The report says the driver said “he had no time to avoid the collision and didn’t even realize what had happened until it was nearly stopped.”

The driver added Thursday was his first time driving on that part of Carroll Road. The midblock crossing, where he struck Patrick, has been a controversial topic, many calling it “confusing and dangerous.”

The report also stated the markings on the roadway, meant to indicate the pedestrian and bicycle crossing, were eroded to the point where they couldn’t be read.

“Obviously we know who’s responsible for the crash because we had one driver hit a pedestrian,” Hershberger said. “What it will come down to is assigning contributing factors.”

Hershberger said some of the contributing factors include how fast the car who struck Patrick was going, if a cell phone was involved, and the results of the driver’s toxicology report – which is standard procedure for a fatal crash.

Police are also looking into how much of a factor the sun played in the incident.

According to the police report, “There was an intense glare while facing westbound at the scene of the crash.” The report also said, “The flashing lights at the crossing would have been extremely difficult, if not impossible to see due to the glare.”

WANE 15 asked Hershberger in what circumstances it is ok for drivers to pass a car on a road with a double yellow line.

“It would not be okay to just pass unless you were able to identify that the vehicle, was perhaps maybe broke down or some extenuating circumstance that would, that would have usually permit that,” Hershberger said. “But, as a general rule, no you’re not allowed to pass on the double yellow.”

This incident was one of six fatal car vs pedestrian crashes just this year. Four bikers have also been fatally struck by cars in 2021. Hershberger said none were killed in 2020.

It’s not clear if any charges will be filed, but Hershberger said if they were, it wouldn’t happen until the investigation is complete.

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